23 January 2013

Zimbabwe: State Fails to Pin Headmistress

A school head, who was facing criminal abuse of office charges, has been acquitted of collecting money from a parent in exchange for a Grade One place. Ms Stella Dlakama (61) was cleared after the prosecution failed to prove a case against her.

Ms Dlakama's lawyer, Ms Karen Muyangwa of Nyikadzino Simango and Associates had applied for discharge at the close of the State case.

Ms Muyangwa had argued that Ms Dlakama had no case to answer and that the State failed to prove a prima-facie case against her client.

In acquitting Ms Dlakama magistrate Ms Ndava accepted the defence submissions.

"No reasonable court can act on the evidence provided by the State since the complainant did not give a satisfactory answer as to why he had not demanded for a receipt when he paid the money," said Ms Ndava.

Charges against Ms Dlakama arose on December 17 last year when she was approached by Anderson Matibhiri and his friend Denford Mudimu, who were looking for a Grade One place for Matibhiri's daughter.

The two agreed that Matibhiri's child would take the place of Mudimu's daughter, who was transferring to another school.

Matibhiri paid Mudimu some money as refund for the school fees he had paid for his daughter.

Ms Dlakama agreed to Matibhiri and Mudimu's arrangement, it was alleged.

Matibhiri was asked to fill in admission forms before paying a fee of $120.

Ms Dlakama, the court was told, did not issue a receipt for the money, arguing she would do so after Matibhiri had provided his proof of residence and a photocopy of his daughter's birth certificate.

Matibhiri went to the school and Ms Dlakama asked him to pay $50 and he refused and demanded reimbursement of the money he had paid. It was further alleged Ms Dlakama turned the tables and declined ever receiving any money from Matibhiri, who reported the matter to the police.

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